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Case Against Alleged Straw Gun Purchaser Moving Forward

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The man charged with buying guns and giving them to another man who opened fire inside the New Hope City Hall was back in court Tuesday morning.

Michael Garant, 42, is charged with making a false claim to acquire firearms. Investigators say he bought three shotguns under the name Raymond Kmetz.

One of those guns was used by Kmetz last month when he shot and injured two police officers outside a New Hope City Council meeting. Officers returned fire, killing Kmetz.

Officials say Kmetz was not allowed to have guns because of a mental illness.

An investigation led officials to Garant, who was first arrested in Hennepin County and then released due to a lack of evidence needed under state law.

A few days later Garant was charged in federal court.

In Tuesday's hearing, new pieces of information were revealed in the federal case against Garant.

The first detail was that Garant had purchased a gun for Kmetz back in December 2013, according to a lead investigator.

That gun transaction was completely separate from the three guns he is later accused of getting for Kmetz in connection to the New Hope City Hall shooting.

At the hearing, the federal prosecutor said Garant bought the 2013 gun at Full Metal Gun Shop in Princeton after Kmetz won an online bid.

He signed paperwork that certified the weapon was for him and no one else.

In court, an ATF agent said that Garant told her Kmetz kept that gun at his brother's house and it was later stolen.

Garant is accused of doing the same thing this year, but told agents he had no knowledge about Kmetz's intentions.

Garant allegedly told ATF agents he knew about Kmetz's medical history and even visited him after he was released from a mental hospital. Even so, he still allegedly supplied him with weapons.

On Tuesday, the judge found there was enough evidence against Garant to move forward.

Garant's defense attorney declined to comment.

In court, however, he said his client is cooperating with investigators.

He also argued that Garant had no part in the shooting at New Hope City Hall. On that, the ATF agent agreed.

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